Review: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

The GracekeepersA flooded world.
A floating circus.
Two women in search of a home.

North lives on a circus boat with her beloved bear, keeping a secret that could capsize her life.

Callanish lives alone in her house in the middle of the ocean, tending the graves of those who die at sea. As penance for a terrible mistake, she has become a gracekeeper.

A chance meeting between the two draws them magnetically to one another – and to the promise of a new life.

But the waters are treacherous, and the tide is against them.

A floating circus. There was no way I wasn’t going to read this book. Ahem…

In keeping with my current theme of prettily-written post-apocalyptic fiction, with more of a character drive than a plot drive, I present to you The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan.

The novel follows Callanish and North, a gracekeeper and circus performer respectively, as they try to find their place in a world which seems to be against them.

Unlike most of the dystopia/post-apocalypse type novels I’ve read, The Gracekeepers takes you to a world of water, where the end of the world was meted out by way of floods, and, unlike most of these novels, the narrative isn’t too pre-occupied by the world of Before. We have no idea whether the end came suddenly or gradually. There are some mentions of it but these are more in-passing than actual plot points. I quite like the lack of importance it places on the world of Before, the idea that the world changed but it is what it is. There’s no sub-plot of trying to restore it – which would be a challenge for any protagonist when the world of before is beneath more water than can be imagined. (Unless the world had a giant plug that no one had discovered yet…)

Speaking of protagonists, the novel has two primarily, Callanish and North (whose name I love), but it doesn’t just tell the story through their eyes. Interspersed between their chapters, we hear from other characters, each a brush stroke adding dimension to the rest of the story. It’s a short book but it covers a fair amount of characters. If I were to name my favourites, I would probably name most of the cast, so I won’t. While not all of the characters are likeable, they are each compelling in their own way.

I really like the idea of the gracekeepers, and graces, and how Damplings (those who live out at sea rather than on land) mourn their dead. The world-building in this novel isn’t the most in-depth but what’s there is both pretty and intriguing.

The one thing, I think, that lets this book down is the ending – something happens which is quite heartbreaking but it isn’t really dealt with in the way that you would expect having read the rest of the novel. It feels as if a few extra paragraphs might have done it a bit more justice. Despite this it is a lovely novel and I did end up thinking about it for a while after finishing – I would love to know what happened to some of the other characters.

It also has a gorgeous cover. Just look at it. Beautiful.

A pretty little read, both sad and hopeful – definitely worth it if you’re into floating circuses.

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